In October 2021, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) acquired the 106-acre Somers Beach property on the northwest shore of Flathead Lake with plans to add it to Montana’s state park system. The previous owners permitted public access to the property for many years. Its designation as a state park will help to perpetuate public enjoyment and access into the future.
In 2022, FWP is conducting a public planning process to help guide future use and development of the site. The goal of this process is to develop a vision for Somers Beach that strikes an appropriate balance between providing safe, enjoyable recreational experiences with protecting fish, wildlife, habitat, and heritage resources.
The overall process is expected to take several months.
To kick things off in spring, FWP conducted a public scoping survey and asked general questions about preferences, interests, and ideas for the site. There were nearly 1,300 individual responses with approximately 80% coming from the Flathead Valley.
A virtual public meeting was held March 16 via Zoom. The meeting was recorded (see below video).
FWP hosted an in-person open house on July 19 and a virtual open house on July 28. The open houses were the latest step in a public planning process and built on information gained from the spring's public survey, which drew more than 1,200 individual responses. All of the public engagement is helping guide future use and development of the state park. The open houses were another opportunity to have a conversation about the park’s development as FWP continues to move forward with formal site planning. Input from the open house will help FWP staff develop a draft environmental assessment with formal proposals this fall.
Presentation: Somers Beach State Park Virtual Open House, July 28 (PDF)
A final planning document that embodies the following characteristics will be issued toward the end of this year:
Consider a cross-section of community values and desires as they relate to the development of Somers Beach.
Identify opportunities for recreational services, amenities, and development that are consistent with the state park classification system.
Establish clear guidance for the protection and management of important natural, cultural, and scenic resources, consistent with FWP's mission.
Recommend educational or interpretive approaches that will help to broaden visitors’ knowledge and appreciation of the area, as well as for agency regulations.
Promote access for all visitors and provide for their safety and wellness.
Provide a basis for decisions related to agency operations, capital outlays, and staffing levels.
Inform the agency's partnership goals and strategies to support stewardship of the site.
FWP believes that public participation is extremely important to an informed planning process. Engagement from a diverse set of local residents, current and prospective park users, subject matter experts, and key stakeholders is desired.
Below is a timeline of key milestones since FWP's acquisition of Somers Beach:
July 28, 2022 - Virtual open house
July 19, 2022 - Open house planned for Somers Beach State Park development
May 12, 2022 - Gov. Gianforte cuts ribbon for new state park at Somers Beach (Public Notice)
March 2022 - FWP launches the Somers Beach planning effort (FWP Public Notice)
February 14, 2022 - FWP issues decision notice for Somers Beach State Park Erosion Structure
December 15, 2021 - FWP issues decision notice for Somers Beach State Park Interim Development
Decision Notice: Somers Beach State Park Interim Development Proposal (FWP Public Notice)
Somers Beach State Park Interim Development Proposal Draft EA (FWP Public Notice)
October 7, 2021 - FWP acquires Somers Beach property for future state park (FWP News Release)
October 29, 2020 - FWP issues decision notice for the acquisition of Somers Beach
Decision Notice: Somers Beach State Park Acquisition EA (FWP Public Notice)
FWP Regional Recreation Manager
490 N. Meridian Rd
Kalispell MT 59901